How to Care for Your Japanese Bonsai Tree

“Bonsai” is a Chinese word that means “tree in a pot.” These small trees have long been a favorite of the Chinese, and later, Japanese peoples. The Chinese
“miniaturized” this type of tree and used the resulting plant for decorations, somewhere around 200 AD.

They’ve since come to America as a manageable tree that can be easily kept in a pot inside your house. Bonsai trees can also be kept outside on a porch, deck, or patio, as long as the temperature doesn’t dip too low. They are especially attractive if they are used as part of a Far Eastern decor.

If you haven’t yet acquired a Bonsai tree, but you want one, you can find them in certain nurseries. Meaning that, not all nurseries carry this unique tree. You can always start your own tree by using seedlings. The biggest difference between buying a tree and starting your own is that the former tree has already been pruned down to a shape. All you have to do is feed, water, and fertilize it. And periodically prune it so it retains its shape.

You’ll need to prune and shape a Bonsai tree if you start one using seedlings.

Just to avoid confusion, I guess I need to explain here that a Bonsai is not an actual species of a tree. It can be created by using a variety of pine or spruce trees. You can even use maples and elms. What makes any of these trees a “Bonsai” is that they are pruned to keep them small. And, they are planted and grown in a pot.

This type of tree is not hard to care for. In fact, many of its requirements are the same needs of most houseplants. For example, a Japanese Bonsai tree needs to be watered on a regular basis. It also needs a water-soluble fertilizer applied to its soil once or twice a month. Since the soil needs to be wet when you apply the fertilizer, it’s best to use it right after you have watered your miniature tree. Liquid Miracle Gro fertilizerâÂ?¢ is a great, all purpose fertilizer for your Bonsai tree.

In addition to this, it also needs to be placed in a sunny location. But, not too sunny. A Bonsai tree needs the light, but it can’t stand sizzling heat.

Probably the most difficult part of caring for a Japanese Bonsai tree is keeping it small. For this, you need to keep its branches pruned so it retains its shape.

To prune your Bonsai tree, you’ll need a small sharp pair of garden trimmers. The first step is to snip off any broken, dead, or diseased branches. Snip these and all other branches as close to the trunk of the tree as possible. Always do this first thing everytime you shape your tree up. Even if removing a damaged or diseased branch means disrupting the shape of your tree, cut them off! Broken or dead branches will only suck the tree’s energy away from the healthy branches. A diseased branch needs to be removed ASAP so the illness doesn’t spread to the rest of the tree.

The next step is to snip off any branches that interfere with the design of the tree. Keep in mind that only one branch should grow off the trunk. Then, the body of the tree will grow off of this single branch.

If there are any large scars left from pruning your Japanese Bonsai tree, you should cover those with a special sealant. This sealant, available at a nursery or lawn center, will close the scar. It will then protect the tree from disease and insects.

You can use pieces of thin copper wire to hold the young branches in place until they begin to grow like that on their own.

And finally, just like any other type of tree, a Bonsai can live for a long time.

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